In 1987 China had the largest inventory of hogs in the world.
The number increased from about 88 million in 1955 to an estimated
331 million in 1985. Hogs are raised in large numbers in every part
of China except in Muslim areas in the northwest. Most hogs are
raised in pens by individual farm households, but in the mid-1980s
the Chinese were constructing large mechanized feeding operations
on the outskirts of major cities. Before the 1980s the state's
major goal was to increase output with little regard to the ratio
of meat to fat. In the 1980s consumers became more conscious of fat
content, and breeders and raisers were shifting to the production
of leaner hogs.
Draft animals are important sources of motive power in rural
areas. Draft animal numbers increased steadily from about 56
million in 1955 to 67 million in 1985 despite rapid increases in
the number of tractors and trucks in rural areas. Animals that
provide draft power for crop cultivation and rural transportation
include water buffalo, horses, mules, donkeys, oxen, and camels.
Sheep and goats are China's most important grazing animals.
Most of these animals are bred in the semiarid steppes and deserts
in the north, west, and northwest. The number of sheep and goats
has expanded steadily from about 42 million in 1949 to
approximately 156 million in 1985. Overgrazed, fragile rangelands
have been seriously threatened by erosion, and in the late 1980s
authorities were in the midst of a campaign to improve pastures and
rangelands and limit erosion.
The dairy and poultry sectors of the livestock economy grew
most rapidly in the 1980s. Dairy cows numbered just under 500,000
in 1978 but tripled to around 1.5 million in 1985. Consumers with
rising incomes demanded more fresh and powdered milk for infants
and elderly people. A large part of this increased demand was met
by individual farmers who were permitted to purchase and own their
animals. The government supported increased milk output by
importing breeding animals and constructing large dairies and
processing facilities. Most poultry was still grown in farmyard
flocks, but reforms encouraged individuals and groups of households
to invest in confined feeding operations. Egg output, especially,
increased rapidly in the 1980s.
China's first modern feed mills were constructed in the 1970s,
followed by many mills equipped with imported technology.
Production of mixed and compound feed grew rapidly, reaching more
than 12 million tons in 1985. This development supported the growth
of animal husbandry.
Data as of July 1987